Hmmm....ok. Perhaps I misunderstood you when you said:
If I were to do simple macro type automation, then I'd record it within Excel or use the existing VBA and save myself the pain of OLE.
That sounded like you plan to use macros for your "automation". Whether you are manually opening Excel and running the macros or using Perl to call the macros, I personally believe that the issues that I pointed out are still relevant.
Also, by using VBA instead of Perl does not mean you escape from OLE. Any VBA code (external to Excel or inside Excel as macros) that does any Excel automation will be using OLE. The Win32::OLE module lets you access the OLE API from Perl. In other words, if you're automating Excel with VBA, macros, or Perl, you're going to use OLE in some way as far as I know.
If I'm still misunderstanding your point, my apologies.